Five moments that defined the UFC in 2021 so far

The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s best year was almost certainly 2016 – but we’re starting to think 2021 is going to run it close.

Knockout wins, big returns, five-round wars, you name it and the UFC has had it in more ways than one.

The future is as bright as it’s ever been for the promotion between their TV deals and an unbelievable roster full of talent but in the last nine months, these five moments have stood out above the rest as being real highlights in a sea of carnage.

Usman humbles Masvidal

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For months Jorge Masvidal made it crystal clear that he didn’t respect the power of Kamaru Usman in the wake of their first meeting on Fight Island. Alas, what he didn’t account for was the insane amount of progress he’d made ever since the Gilbert Burns win, which is what led to “The Nigerian Nightmare” knocking “Gamebred” out cold in front of a lively crowd in Jacksonville.

Controversial Conor returns

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Conor McGregor was knocked out cold by Dustin Poirier in their January rematch and six months later, the ‘heel’ McGregor came back – to borrow a pro wrestling term.

In the end he fell to a second straight loss as a result of a broken leg but instead of taking it on the chin, “The Notorious” sat inside the octagon and hurled further abuse at “The Diamond”. It may not have been pretty, but it’s definitely helped the idea that we could wind up seeing them fight a fourth time.

Lightweight’s new Brazilian king

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In one of the most exciting bouts of the year, Charles Oliveira finally completed his ascent to the top of the lightweight division.

He had to go through hell to get there, though, after Michael Chandler came insanely close to knocking him out in the first round of their absolute war down in Texas.

Alas, “Do Bronx” was able to regroup and get right back on the horse with a knockout for the ages.

Diaz comes close

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Nate Diaz was handily beaten for the first four and a half rounds of his battle with Leon Edwards this summer – but nobody will remember that.

What they’ll remember is Diaz, with his face resembling a crimson mask, catching Edwards with a great shot before spending the final 60 seconds hunting him down.

He may have lost in the eyes of the judges but the fans will forever love him for moments like this.

Thug Rose is back

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“Thug” Rose Namajunas shocked the world when she won the belt back at UFC 217 and nearly four years later, in her words, “I did it again”.

Zhang Weili was an imposing figure with many expecting her to get the better of Rose but instead, the queen of the strawweights reclaimed her throne with a head kick knockout that would’ve put most women’s lights out.

Featured image credit: Getty